Category Archives: Holidays and Parties

My Top 5 Games and Activities for the Holiday’s

I always think I’m not a huge game person, until I actually start playing. I’m the one at the party that whines when someone mentions playing a game, but once I reluctantly start, I am probably the most enthusiastic game player there. I don’t know why I think I hate games? Anyways, here are some hilarious and fun games you can play during your holiday parties with friends and/or family.

Top 5 Games:

1. Spoons. I don’t know if everyone knows what spoons is, but it is potentially really funny (especially when, for some reason, your mom smashes her head on the table instead of her hand…that’s comedy).

  • Materials needed: A deck of cards, spoons

2. Catch Phrase. By far my favorite game of all time! Very simple, fun, and hilarious!

catch phrase

3. Beer Pong/Flip Cup. I don’t know about your families, but mine loves to act like they’re in college during the Holiday’s. These classic college drinking games are a big hit at our family get togethers.

  • Materials: Your drink of choice (usually beer), cups, ping pong balls.
  • Directions: Google it.

4. Christmas Vacation Drinking Games. Game that Brittany previously mentioned and looks extremely funny.

Click on this link to get details on the Christmas Vacation Drinking Game:

Click on this link to get details on the Christmas Vacation Drinking Game:

5. Scattergories. This is a great game to play with people you know well. You’re able to think of what they think is funny or would fit a particular description the best. This game usually results in laughs from ridiculous word pairings :-)

Top 5 Activities:

1. Christmas movie marathons. There are a plethora of Christmas movies on so many channels during the month of December. Flip around and choose your favorite (I’m talking about you, ABC Family 25 days of Christmas)!

2. Christmas Lights Sight Seeing. Drive around in rich neighborhoods and look at their giant houses and beautiful lights.

Christmas Lights House3. Sledding! Who doesn’t like sledding?!

Miles Snow4. If you live in somewhere that has snow: snowshoeing, skiing/snowboarding, cross country skiing.


5. If you don’t live in a place that has snow:I’m not quite sure…ask Brittany :-)


Holiday Bar Crawl. My family started an annual bar crawl and it is one of my favorite things to do when I visit family!

Christmas GroupMerry Christmas and Happy New Year! Brittany and I will be enjoying a two week break and will not post until early January. We look forward to helping you reach your financial goals while having the time of your life in 2014!

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10 Things I’m Thankful for this Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for so much more than what’s listed on here, but here is a list of just 10 things I’m thankful for this year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

1. My healthy niece, Mackenzie. One year ago today, we weren’t sure if my adorable little niece would ever make it out of the NICU. She was so tiny and frail and hooked up to everything imaginable. Around every corner was another roadblock. My sister and brother-in-law had a rough introduction to parenthood, but are now able to be wonderful parents to cutest-child-award Mackenzie.


2. New Friends and Old Friends. I am thankful to meet great people in every city I live in. I am also thankful for friends living in old cities that I continue to maintain friendships with. It’s hard to find quality friendships and I have been lucky enough to make a few quality friends in every city I’ve lived in.

Best Friends

3. James. I am so lucky to have someone that I love and who loves me to experience life with. He encourages and inspires me through his daily determination and hard work. I am grateful for his dependability, humor, and intrinsic motivation.

Weekend Mistake Post

4. Kansas City. I am grateful to be living a life where I can experience different parts of the country. So far, I have lived in 3 different cities. Each city has brought challenges and excitement. I have loved every city I’ve lived in and love going back to see the place and catch up with wonderful people that I’ve met there. After being away from home for years, there’s no better feeling that the warmth and comfort of a visit home. I am enjoying experiencing Kansas City and all that it has to offer.

New Friends

5. Work. It is gratifying to have a career that I love and feel passionately about. Working with children with multiple impairments brings me rare gifts every day. I will gladly accept those days when I feel worn out and am covered in saliva and play dough. Not only do I love my job, but I am extremely lucky to work with smart, passionate, and fun people!


6. Dave Ramsey. Learning about Dave Ramsey and his principals has literally changed my life. I would be so stressed about paying bills/debts, having fun, and experiencing life instead of the free feeling I have because I have a plan and goals. Since my mom introduced me to his books, I’m also thankful for her doing that.

7. My Training Partner, Amy. I could not function in daily life if I wasn’t able to exercise regularly. On those cold, dark mornings when I can’t seem to get out of bed, Amy is key. I am grateful for her for keeping me accountable and chatting during those long runs. Unfortunately, we don’t have an awesome post-run selfie :-(

8. My envelopes. I wouldn’t be able to stick to my budget and achieve my goals without my envelopes. I love them.

9. Debt. It seems weird that I would be thankful for debt, but over the last year (since I started attacking my debt), I have learned so much about money, budgeting, and a new lifestyle. I am actually at the point where I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything at all to stick to my budget and achieve my goals. I couldn’t have learned those lessons without debt. I will be 100x more thankful when it’s gone.

Brit and ZSam

10. Aldi. I love food. I love that Aldi’s helps me stick to my grocery budget without feeling like I’m giving up anything.


 What are you thankful for this year?!  Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Conquering 9 Budget Busters this Holiday Season

Last week Sam wrote a great post that gave you some tips on giving gifts to all the people that made it on the nice list this year, but we all know that gift-giving isn’t the only area that drains our bank accounts during the holidays.  Here is a list of my Top 9 Holiday Budget Busters and how you can prepare yourself ahead of time so that they don’t break your Christmas Spirit.

ugly sweaters

1.Social Party Circuit: Part of the greatness that is the holiday season is spending time with people you love and catching up with people you haven’t seen much of throughout the year.  It’s up to you to make sure your money doesn’t disappear on the dance floor at a NYE bash or an ugly sweater bar crawl. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Don’t bring your debit and/or credit card to these parties. Bring only as much cash as you want to spend—if you don’t have the option of spending more, you simply can’t.
  • Dance. Dancing is fun, and it keeps you away from the bar. Plus, how many exceptional dance moves incorporate you putting a bottle or glass to your lips—not too many, which makes you slow down your drinking, thus you spend less.
  • Don’t feel the need to buy a new dress for each party you attend. If you really feel like your closet is lagging in holiday attire, maybe you can make a deal to do a clothes swap with one of your girlfriends. One woman’s trash could be another gal’s holiday treasure.
  • Remember that attendance is not mandatory. You don’t have to attend every holiday party or get together you are invited to, so don’t put that kind of added stress on yourself, especially during the holiday season.  A night in with a mug of hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps will save you money and also give you time to let your body and mind rest.

2. Office Parties:  Okay so we are all crossing our fingers and hoping to see two magical words on the holiday party invite—OPEN BAR!!! If you work for a company that is providing you with a free holiday feast and barrels of wine, congratulations…and remember to control yourself 😉 If you aren’t, realize that it is probably a blessing in disguise. It’s in poor taste to get sloshed at your work party anyway, so take it easy—for the sake of your wallet and your career.  Don’t feel like you need to buy a new dress or other attire—how often do you see your co-workers on a Saturday night anyway? If it’s not business casual, it is probably “new” to them.


3. Gifts: Planning ahead definitely helps you survive Christmas season without acquiring debt as well as helping you find the best gifts for the people you love. If you didn’t get a jump start, don’t freak out—there are other alternatives. Etsy has several well priced gift options, give all of your friends one of your specialty dishes or desserts (that you secretly made in bulk and then divided up) with a sweet card or note, give the gift of your time and then pick up the tab for the drink/dinner they had while hanging out with you, or look for something personal. Thought trumps money.

4. Donations: If those less fortunate than yourself are on your gifting list this year, hats off to you and your big heart. J The amount you give should be relevant to the amount you have. Just realize that every little bit you give is a little bit that someone didn’t have before.  If you don’t have a lot of extra money this season there are still ways that you can give to a charitable cause:

  • At the register, donate your change or round up your total cost to the nearest dollar to donate to the cause that the retailer or restaurant is promoting.  It’s an easy way to give a little at a time.Donate your time to a good cause. Time is just as valuable (if not more) as money.
  • Start or contribute to a food drive.
  • Start or contribute to supporting a family in need. Many churches often choose families to sponsor over the holidays—join in!
  • If you are hosting a party, do double duty and instead of a gift exchange or potluck ask your guests to bring a can of food or article of clothing to go towards a drive.
  • Spread the word about charities that you support fully with your heart but can’t financially support on your own. Word of mouth is powerful and its efficiency is underrated. I don’t have tens of thousands to give, but I can still share their stories.

Click here to get an update on Baby Mackenzie’s progress and learn about how you can donate to help pay her medical bills.

baby mack

Click on this cutie’s picture to learn more about how being born prematurely has affected her first year and how you can help support her and her family.

Click here to learn more about Lindsey’s story and how you can help her get the treatment she needs to live.


Click on Lindsey’s picture to learn more about her story and how you can help!

5. Potlucks: Is this holiday season or potluck season?!?!? Seriously food and parties that require you to bring food will be EVERYWHERE starting now and ending once everyone makes their New Year’s Resolutions to eliminate their potbellies. I want to bring a dish that people will like, but I’m not going to spend more on one potluck dish than I would on a nice dinner.  In order to stop the pennies you spend on your potluck contribution from adding up quickly, try to make a dish for which the ingredients are already sitting in your kitchen. If your cupboards are bare, go hit the grocery store with an open (and frugal) mind.  There is always something on sale, and if you get creative you can easily make it work for less than $10.00. Making a dish yourself will require you spend a little more time preparing, but it will save you money.

6. Travel Expenses: Getting close to family and friends is a top priority for many of us this time of year. I only know of one jolly fellow who has a magical sleigh that can take him around the world free of charge, but for the rest of us, travel costs over the holidays can get pretty steep.  Although it’s no reindeer drawn sleigh, a plane doesn’t have to be a completely cash-consuming means to your nearest and dearest. Sam wrote an entire post about saving while traveling that you can find here. Below are some more tips that can help you save a little or lot when you are soaring next to Rudolph this holiday season.

  • Shop around for flights—explore several airlines, across several times of day, and be as flexible as possible on your travel dates.
  • Pack your own snacks or suck it up and let your stomach growl on the flight—yes I went there.
  • Provide your own entertainment—those stores with magazines and books are so overpriced. Take the time to pack your kindle, current book/magazine, and have your phone/iPod charged.  You could also partake in my favorite flight activity—the nap!
  • Phone a friend instead of a taxi if possible. You can save anywhere from $20-$100 just by not leaving your car in long-term parking while you are away.
  • Pack Light! Several airlines will charge you for extra bags or extra-heavy bags, but this is totally avoidable if you pack well and reasonably. I’m guessing there will be a place for you to do laundry at your holiday destination, so take advantage of it….and (gasp!) wear some of your clothes more than once! If Duchess Kate re-wears her clothes shamelessly, so can you!

Pile of illuminated string lights

7. Decorations: Nobody wants their home to look like the Grinch’s cave during the month of December, but let’s get real—it is only one month.  It is possible to feel the holiday cheer without overspending.  Major discount stores, such as Dollar Tree or The 99 Cent Store, carry all your holiday basics—garland, lights, tinsel, wrapping paper, bows, cards, gift bags, and stocking stuffers. You can also up the holiday atmosphere by doing something as simple as filling a clear vase or bowl with spray painted pine cones, white Christmas lights, or peppermints.  And no matter how burnt out you are by the time January rolls around, pack up all your favorite holiday décor pieces instead of throwing them out. In about 330 days you will be really happy you did :)

brit and bess

8. Boozin’: In addition to the parties you will be eating candy canes at that have actual invites and required RSVPs, you will probably be meeting up with many of your friends from high school and/or college. When you leave your childhood homes and head to your favorite bars or restaurants, decide how much you want to spend on drinks ahead of time, and bring only that amount of money out with you, IN CASH. It’s the most fool-proof way to succeed at beating your bar tab.

9. Hosting: For all the brave souls that are playing host/hostess this year—first things first, you are AWESOME.  Now, down to the business of trying to save you some money without annoying or disappointing your guests.

  • Don’t go overboard with decorations. Just like a wedding, people are going to remember A – How much fun they had, and B – Mmmm that food was good!
  • If you are providing food, do it easily and in bulk: Salads, Crockpots, appetizers, and desserts are a hostess’s best friend. And don’t feel like everyone needs a piece of everything—packing up leftovers at the end of a long night can be a hassle anyway. Make your life easier by being sure all the food will be consumed by the end of the night.
  • Accept help if it is offered. Your friends are offering to help because they want to, so let them. This is not the same thing as demanding help.
  • Providing entertainment doesn’t need to cost as much as 100 gallons of eggnog. Board games, card games, tacky holiday attire, and a solid playlist are all cheap and sure to make everyone’s sleigh bells ring. I stumbled upon a Christmas Vacation Drinking Game during a Pinterest binge earlier this year, and it seems like a good time. Click on this majestic picture of Clark and Ellen Griswold to learn how to play. Or get think outside the box and create your own game!

Click on this link to get details on the Christmas Vacation Drinking Game: on the picture to learn how to play.

  • You get to decide how/if people give gifts. It’s your party, if you want to do a white elephant, that’s cool. If you just want to party, that’s cool too. Be confident and comfortable with whatever you decide.
  • If the shindig is informal and especially if you are providing food, make it BYOB.

Christmas is still over a month away, but the holiday season going be in high gear in less than 2 weeks! If you start thinking about where and how you will be spending your money right now, you can feel like this

xmas splits

instead of like this

grumpy grinch

by the time that jolly old man squeezes down your chimney!

We want to know–what strategies do you use to make sure you enjoy time with your family and friends during the holidays without majorly impacting your finances?

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Holidays on a Budget-Issue 1

This is the first of two issues about financially surviving the holiday’s.  Hopefully our tips allow you to continue your attack on your debt snowball while embracing the spirit of the season by giving :-)

5 months before Christmas:

  • Create a spreadsheet that lists the names of people you’re planning on buying for in one column and how much you plan to spend on each person in the next column.
  • When you’ve come up with your grand total, decide how much you can put into savings for Christmas expenses each month. That will tell you how many months ahead you have to start saving in order to buy something special for everyone on your list.
Christmas Dogs

My adorable dogs having issues posing for a picture.

1-2 months before Christmas:

  • As you begin buying gifts for the people on your list, add columns to the spreadsheet that include what you actually bought and how much that specific item costs. This way, you know exactly how much you spent and on what.
  •  Why is that important? I find that sometimes I overspend or get a gift early that I don’t really want to give someone as Christmas comes closer. If I’ve written down the item and how much it costs, I can take an item back or change my budget plans based on each item that I’ve purchased.

 Don’t forget:

  • Travel expenses. If you have to fly or drive far to go home, don’t forget to include flight cost or gas cost in your Christmas list budget. This is a great time of year to save money by using some points from your flight rewards card to pay for your holiday travel expenses.
  •  Work and Friend Holiday Parties: A lot of offices and groups of friends like to get together and participate in Secret Santa or some other gift giving event.
  •  Spending Allowance during Christmas Break: Remember to budget in a reasonable spending allowance so that you can enjoy your break. Some people go home and spend most of their time at home with family and spend very little money. Some people make plans with old friends throughout their breaks. Lunches, dinners, and happy hours and add up.

 I have attached an example of a Holiday Budget Template that I use to keep track of the people on my list and how much I plan to spend.

Christmas Group

Yearly Christmas bar crawl with a crazy family!

 Gift Ideas:

If you’re aggressively attacking your debt and you don’t want to stop your debt snowball for a few months to save up for Christmas gifts for everyone in your entire family this year, it’s totally OK to let them know that you can’t spend a lot over the holiday’s. Your friends and family should understand that you’re working on something that will significantly benefit your life in the near future (and bring them bigger and better gifts in the future) 😉 .

 With that said, here are some gift ideas that are thoughtful yet inexpensive:

  • If you’re crafty, anything on Pinterest will do (this year I’m making candles – last year I made ornaments)
  • Lottery tickets
  • Gift cards
  • Groupons
  • Magazine or TV subscriptions
  • Ask your family to participate in a Secret Santa so you’re responsible for buying for fewer people
  • Baked Goods
  • Everyone needs socks  😉


 Look out for Brittany’s “Holiday’s on a Budget” post on Thursday!

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♥ Sam

15 Creative and Cheap Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner, and there is no such thing as too much inspiration when it comes to planning parties and choosing your costume. Everybody wants a costume that makes the other ghouls and goblins cheer when they enter the room, but nobody wants to spend a fortune to get that recognition. Lucky for you, I’ve dug through the archives of the most creative and low income years of my life and am ready to share 15 creative and cheap Halloween costumes that will help you avoid being a party pooper at your next boo bash.  I have to admit, as I was looking through old pictures to prep for this post, I began to wish my college would have offered a minor in theme party attendance/design. At the very least, my participation grade would have had a significant impact on my GPA!

1. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and the Pink Power Ranger 

power ranger - dorothy

My love for dressing up started young, and these were the least embarrassing pictures I found….I’m starting to feel a little nostalgic for that pink power ranger costume–Pterodactyl!!!

Okay, technically this makes the list total 16 costumes instead of 15, but I couldn’t resist showing off my first puppy or my legit ninja stance, so both made the cut. I wore these costumes before my age reached the double digits; however I would still wear them today. Both are classic costumes and  easy looks to achieve.

What you Need: For Dorothy you need a blue plaid dress, sparkly red shoes, two french braids, and a cute puppy named Toto. For Pink Power Ranger you just need a pink body suit with the power ranger emblem (which you can make with a few items from the craft store) and a white belt (thrift store purchase). For the grown up version, you can find a used motorcycle helmet at a thrift store and spray paint it pink!

Different Takes: You could be any member of the cast from Wizard of Oz or the Power Rangers–good guys and bad guys. Better yet, get a group of friends together and channel the entire cast as a team!

2. Pinata


What you Need: An old pair of yoga pants/tights, old zip up hoodie, two birthday party hats, and LOTS of multicolored tissue paper. I made this costume by hot gluing layers of torn tissue paper to my old clothes. It was time-consuming and took a little experimentation to find the best technique, but it was cheap and really fun!

Different Takes: You could partner up with someone if they wanted to be a piece of candy or a person with a blindfold on…Although I highly discourage you from having a bat or stick be part of your costume, especially if you are at a bar. Towards the end of the night I even tried to keep my distance from the pool table!!  😉

3. Hagrid


I actually wore this to a Harry Potter themed Birthday party for a young girl I babysat. It started as a joke with the kids, but I couldn’t stop myself from following through. The crowed reaction was great, but eating popcorn with a beard wasn’t…

What you Need: Wig and fat suit(both were already sitting in a costume bin at my apartment), beard (made using a hot glue gun, doll hair, and a foam visor from Hobby Lobby–way cheaper than buying a beard), extra large shirt and pants (thrift store), work boots (thrift store), vest (glued faux fur and sheepskin to an old vest I hardly wore anyway), and belt (thrift store) with various faux fur and leather pieces I had in my craft supply at home tied to and dangling from it.

Different Takes: Just like the Wizard of Oz, you can pull together a group of friends and dress as multiple characters. I was lucky enough to co-babysit with one of my closest friends who made a really cute Luna Lovegood. Now that I’m looking at these pictures side by side, some bushy eyebrows would really take this look to the next level…hindsight really is 20-20!

4. Cruella De’Vil



What you Need: Black and white spray on hair dye (Walmart or Dollar Store), Red Gloves (thrift store or Halloween store if you strike out), Furry Shawl (we bought cheap soft/fluffy fabric at Hobby Lobby), Slinky black dress (closet or thrift store), bright red lipstick.

Different Takes: Cruella is one bad B. And completely crazy. If you have shorter hair and you can get it to stand up like it does in that scene while Cruella is driving down the mountain, you are taking this costume to a whole other level. You could also add puppies (stuffed or your friends dressed up) or those two goons that worked for Cruella to this costume to include others.

5. Ariel and King Triton

I was really advocating for my boyfriend to dress as Ursala, but I lost that battle.

I was really advocating for my boyfriend to dress as Ursala, but I lost that battle.

What you Need: For Ariel: Nude body suit (you can skip this if you live somewhere warm or feel good about showing that much skin) – I got mine at American Apparel, Purple material–from old piece of clothing or buy cheap fabric from a store like Hobby Lobby–for your “shells” (can sew or glue onto your body suit), shiny blue material and blue tulle for the fin (Hobby Lobby), and elastic sequin band to hold your fin in place–like a skirt (Hobby Lobby). I wore sparkly make-up and bright red lipstick. Fake eyelashes would be an excellent touch. And if your hair isn’t already red, you will need to buy the spray on kind or a wig from a Halloween store.

For King Triton: For his trident we bought a cheap plastic devil’s spear in the Halloween section and spray-painted it gold with some spray paint we had laying around the house. We had a wizard wig from a previous costume and bought the beard, made the fin the same way we made Ariel’s, and made his crown by cutting a zigzag pattern into a sparkly foam visor to make it into a crown shape and wore it the way all the cool guys did in the early 2000s….upside down. Haha–yikes, right?!?

Different Takes: King Triton is pretty one dimensional, but you can do Ariel many ways. Use a rope to tie a sheet around yourself like a toga for the fresh out of the ocean look.If you are really dedicated and positive you aren’t going to fall on your head, you could stick a fork in your hair. She also has a pretty great wedding gown, and a lot of awesome characters around her (Prince Eric, Ursala, Sebastian, and Scully).

6. Penny Lane

It's always a good idea to dress as your favorite characters

It’s always a good idea to pull inspiration from your favorite movies when deciding on a Halloween costume. Penny Lane is my favorite character of all time–It’s all happening!!

What you Need: Long brown suede Jacket with fur lining (I found mine on ebay for $10.00!), blue-tinted glasses (dollar store or Halloween store), jeans, cream-colored crop top, and wavy hair.

Different Takes: This was my favorite Penny Lane look and the most well-known; however she wore several cool outfits throughout the movie, and you could use Almost Famous to inspire a period piece costume that didn’t exactly emulate one of the characters and still have a really cool look for the night.

7. Amelia Earhart

Did you know Penny and Amelia were bffs? What a small world!

Did you know Penny and Amelia were bffs? What a small world!

What you Need: Bomber Jacket (thrift store), scarf, boots, cargo pants (all three may already be owned/if not, can be found at a thrift store), pilot cap and goggles (Halloween store).

Different Takes: Obviously there is only one Amelia Earhart, but you can reuse several pieces of this costume, so don’t throw out any of your purchases–add them to your costume bin!

8. Pirate

So this isn't the best look for my face, but the costume was showcased so well, I had to sacrifice my pride!

So this isn’t the best look for my face, but the costume was showcased so well, I had to sacrifice my pride!

What you Need: Black base (I wore a tight long sleeved black shirt I already owned and cut some baggy, silky pants I found at the thrift store off above the knee); pink sash was found in the shawl/scarf section at a thrift store and I tied it around my waist; fishnet tights, gloves, and shirt were purchased in sale section of cheap mall chain store; bandanna, bangles, and beads can all be found around the house, in a costume bin, or purchased for cheap at a thrift store; I got the eye patch at Walgreens, and was also wearing some pretty awesome swashbuckling boots that didn’t make the photo (thrift store for less than $10).

Different Takes: Being a pirate is a classic costume that can be done many different ways. I think the key is to make sure you look like a rough, dirty version of yourself…which makes the pirate a highly individualized and fun costume if you put some thought into it.

9. Flapper

Same costume. Different years. Different parties.

Same costume. Different years. Different parties.

What you need: If you are going to do an original version, you will need a headband, gloves, pearls, dropwaist dress (with fringe for more fun), and fishnet tights.

Different Takes: You can create a very cool and glam flapper costume if you build it yourself, and can find a lot of inspiration by looking at old pictures. You can also have different takes on the accessories you buy to complete your looks as well. When I buy items specifically for costumes—feather boa, fake pearls, hats, eccentric coats/shoes, faux fur, glasses, fat suit, wigs—I put them in a “costume bin” that sits in my closet. There is no reason to retire a costume-intended purchase after one night. Use and Use and Use again!!

10. Native American


What you Need: Suede/Leather dress (my mom snagged this from a friend who was going to throw it out) with bead embellishments and fringe at the bottom that you unfortunately can’t see in the picture, Headband (I used a belt I already had and tied it around my head and stuck a feather in the back), Face paint (no joke–I used red lipstick and outlined it with black eyeliner, instead of buying face paint for this little area), moccasins (also not pictured but can be found at thrift store or slipper section of big stores).

Different Takes: You could go big with a headdress, bring a tomahawk, have more intense face paint, or channel a particular famous Native American. Natural materials are key for the materials and bright colors or jewelry will add a nice pop and livelihood to your costume.

11. Marathon Runners

I should put out a disclaimer that these are not costumes and we really did run a race together.

I should put out a disclaimer that these are not costumes and we really did run a race together–however, it seems like running races is a big trend right now. Dressing up as a marathon runner is an easy costume that requires about as much effort as tying your shoes before a race.

What you Need: Workout clothes (you’ve already got them), digital watch (have it, or thrift an old/broken one), race number (easy to DIY), medal (if you’ve never won a medal, someone else probably did…and then donated it to a thrift store).

Different Takes: If you want to be a serious runner, you should probably get a fanny pack or “hydration belt”. You can also wear headphones, sunglasses, or sweatbands. If you are a male, don’t forget about the glorious era of short-shorts in sports…this is a golden opportunity to show some leg (and scrunchy socks).

12. The Themed Race Runner

mud runners

What you Need: The themed runner is really just taking your marathon runner costume to a new level. There are so many kinds of races today, so adding one tiny aspects transforms your “marathon” costume into a completely different costume. What you need is everything a marathon costume-wearer would need plus one or more of the following: Mud, color, tutus, and maybe some serious-looking fake injuries.

13. Venus and Serena Williams



What you Need: You will need to find a uniform (your own closet, an athletic friend–our roommates’ sister was on the tennis team, thrift store), rackets (our garage), Sweatbands (Walmart), wigs (Halloween store)–we bought the beads separately and put them in ourselves, hoop earrings (already had them).

Different Takes: We dressed as very specific athletes, but you can utilize these strategies to dress as any professional athlete. Some potential ideas include basketball players, Nascar drivers, cheerleaders, soccer players, boxers, football players, equestrian, professional wrestlers, gymnasts, etc.

14. Reality TV’s Finest

reality tv


What you Need: This is a broad category, but here are two examples of how my friend Sarah exploited reality TV’s finest while we were in college. On the left she was dressed as a contestant from the TV show Dance your Ass Off. The sparkly dress was leftover from a Mardi Gras party outfit, and the fat suit came from my “costume bin”. It is actually the same one I wore as Hagrid. In the picture on the right, she was dressed as the ever classy Becky “Buckwild” from “Flavor of Love” one of VH1’s first and finest dating competition programs…Flaaaavor Flaaaaaaaave!!!!! If you are in your mid-to-late twenties, you know you know what I’m talking about. Yeah boiiiii! This was an easy costume to create that was a big hit at that time period. She wore baggy black pants and a wife beater (closet or thrift store), a trucker hat (costume bin or thrift store), and a clock necklace–which was made by blinging out an old clock with some glitter and Mardi Gras beads.

Different Takes: I realize that neither of these reality TV shows are on air today, but these costumes are great examples of how a little creativity goes a long way. Many reality TV stars have some obnoxious or outrageous trademark(s) they are known for, so pick the one you love the most–or love to hate the most–and exploit it to create a reality character-themed costume that is relevant to pop culture today!

15. Be Something Spooky

boo boo


Okay, okay, I understand that this is not a human in a costume, but my mom’s dog is so cute, and Halloween is the perfect time for her to flaunt her under-bite, I just couldn’t resist including her bat costume. Whether you are a dog or human–wearing a spooky, scary, or disgusting costume is always going to be a hit on Halloween, and there are SO MANY WAYS you can do spooky.

Different Takes: Bats, vampires, ghosts, zombies (you can be a zombie anything by the way…zombie-cheerleader, zombie-teacher, zombie-baby..), witches, mummies…the list is very, very long and extremely diverse. You can’t go wrong if you go scary, and you can harness your own creativity to make your costume whatever you want!!

Here are a few more pointers on finding/creating creative and cheap Halloween costume year after year:

Use what you already have:  Several of these costumes were built with the help of items that were already owned by me. Clothes (frequently worn and that you are thinking of throwing out), costume jewelry, make up, sporting gear, and many other items are probably sitting in your dresser, storage closet, or garage. Take inventory on what you already have before you buy items you don’t need.

Be a thrift store VIP costumer (Pun intended): Most clothing items and shoes at thrift stores cost less than $3, and many components of a great costume aren’t going to be found in a “Halloween” section of a store anyway.  If you need unique shirts, hats, glasses, shoes, bags, materials, stuffed animals, etc., a thrift store is a great place to start your hunt.

 Reuse: If you do decide to go the lazy route and buy a costume that is already put together (no shame, we’ve all been there), don’t be ashamed to wear it more than once. I wore this flapper costume at least twice, and I have lent it out to a few of my friends. And the friends that I lent it to are willing to let me borrow their stuff too, so now everyone is saving money :)

I need to throw a shout out of thanks to my friend Sarah, for letting me showcase her creativity and many personas throughout this post!

What are some of your favorite go-to Halloween costumes?

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♥ Brittany

Tailgate this Weekend with No Money Hangover on Monday

football field

Football season has officially begun, and with the onset of football comes the certainty that many people’s weekends will be spent at games or watching games. Any good fan knows that that before you enter the stadium to find your seats, before you sing along and respect ‘Merica during the national anthem, before some know-it-all idiot finds his seat two rows behind you and starts yelling, and before kickoff starts the actual game—you must first participate in what is perhaps one of the most important sports rituals of all. You must tailgate.  Tailgating helps you mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for the game. You wear your team’s colors (a costume if you are a truly dedicated). You drink. You eat. You throw a bean bag. You drink (not a typo).  You cheer. If you are a lady, you might spend your breaths between eating and drinking talking to your friends about the Pinterest recipe you used to make your delicious dip or getting caught up on what’s happening in each others’ lives. If you are a fella, you probably spend those breaths starting chants or talking game-time strategies—and yes, yours is so much better than the coach’s…

group huskers

If you aren’t careful, tailgating can become a regular weekend money –sucker.  The easiest way to make sure it doesn’t is to watch your favorite team at home by yourself, but this is FUN on a budget, and being a lonely loser is not a good substitute for saving money. You can fully enjoy the tailgate experience without spending an amount of money that hits you as hard as your post game hangover by using the tips and strategies found below, and if you aren’t lucky enough to be cheering your team on from the stadium this weekend, you can still apply a lot of these strategies to watch parties that are happening at a fellow fan’s house.

  • Have a realistic budget, and hold yourself to it. For example, when I tailgate or go to a game, any money I spend beyond the price of the ticket comes out of the $100 of spending money I withdraw for myself every two weeks. This is where prioritizing comes in—maybe you skip dinner on Friday night because the Saturday Tailgate is more important to you. USE CASH before the game, at the game, and after the game. The stadium or bar is a bad place to have your entire checking account at your disposal in the form of a plastic card, and you know it.
  • Use what you already have in your cupboards. I nearly always have the ingredients to make some type of cookie so a batch is one of my go-to contributions. Get creative! Many pantries and refrigerators already have the supplies you need to make a great dip, potato or pasta salad, or sandwiches. You can save anywhere from $5 to $20 doing this. Chances are you will go to the store to get the ingredients for your recipe and end up buying more than just those items.
  • Be the chauffeur every once in awhile. Chances are everyone will appreciate your offer to drive so much that they will let you eat and drink for free without judging you.


  •  It’s important to remember that your contribution doesn’t always have to be the best one at your tailgate. Don’t be “that jerk” that never brings anything, but give yourself a pass to not always be wowing everyone. This might be a shout-out to all my readers that are perfectionists  and competitive…you know who you are
  • Be the owner of some tailgating investment pieces. Food and drinks are not the only important parts of the tailgate experience. Be that guy that has the folding table, grill, coolers, bags, washers, chairs, blankets, etc. Just like the person who brings their car, the person who helps set up the entertainment fortress is likely to be left off the hook in the food and drink department—and rightfully so!
  • Share a classy six pack of your favorite beer, or if you are lucky enough to still be in college, split a case instead of buying one alone.
  • Utilize bulk shopping where it will do you right. Costco is my favorite warehouse store, and it has some tailgating items you can buy quickly for less than $10 when you are in a hurry—or feeling lazy…it’s the weekend, right?.  Trail mix, hummus, Chips, Chex Mix, and Crackers can all be bought for less than 10 bucks!


  • Create a cheaper, signature drink. For example, my family and I have started bringing cider to games when the weather turns cold. You can get jugs of apple cider pretty cheap at the grocery store, and if you need an extra kick (to keep you warm, obviously) you can add your liquor of choice—you might even already have that at home!
  • Sometimes less is more. If you are making a dish that will go bad if it gets left out in the sun or hot car, don’t make too much just because everyone might want a full serving (or three). It feels better to have your dish wiped clean by your friends’ forks and spoons before the game than to wiping your spoiled, wasted leftovers into the trash can.  Ever heard of supply and demand? Bring that principal to the parking lot.
  • Partner up! Find the chip to your dip or the turkey to your bread. There is no shame in creating or enhancing your contribution with the help of someone else. Married couples do it, and best buds can do it too!

herbie husker


Happy Tailgating!!!

What strategies do you use to make sure tailgating is a good time without emptying your wallet?


It’s Our Party!!!

Today we are wearing our birthday suits and making some toasts because we have proudly welcomed our little bundle of joy, “Fun on a Budget”, into the world!  We would like to take the time to thank anyone who has directly or indirectly helped us make this happen—some of you know who you are, and some of you don’t.  Regardless, you are all very much appreciated!! The basics have been posted for you, and we are both excited that there is only fun stuff to follow. We hope that our posts inspire you to do at least two good things for yourself every day—be a financial goddess and have fun doing it! 

Brittany & Sam